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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Inverter Kaputnik
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paulz
Member
# Posted: 14 Feb 2021 10:57
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Thanks ICC. Speaking of inverter/chargers, what can you do with the charger part in off grid solar? Charge a car battery off the solar?

ICC
Member
# Posted: 14 Feb 2021 11:47 - Edited by: ICC
Reply 


No.

The inverter section of an inverter/charger takes the DC power from the battery bank and makes AC power for the cabin to use. Just like any inverter would do.

The charger section f an inverter/charger takes AC power from an outside source such as a generator or a grid connection and charges the off-grid system battery bank.

All connections are hard-wired, with no plugin wires. The generator is hard-wired to the AC input. The AC output is hardwired to the service panel. The DC battery connection is hard-wired to the DC input..

The best are programmable. The maximum charge rate to the battery bank may be limited to 20 amps if that is the most power the generator can provide. Or perhaps the type and size of batteries may have a recommended maximum charge amps. There can also be a time delay between the moment the inverter/charger senses the availability of incoming AC and the time it begins to charge the battery bank. That allows for the generator to warm up. Some inverter/chargers will also ramp up the charging from zero to the programmed maximum. That avoids the instantaneous "slam" when a normal battery charger is turned on or plugged in. The best inverter/chargers will also allow a running generator to supply part of the AC cabin load while some comes from the battery bank inverter section. All done with no user intervention other than he initial programming.

Because the manufacturer wants the purchaser to buy other components from them sometimes the inverter/charger needs an additional accessory panel to implement the programming. That is not all bad, as that control can also tie the makers solar CC together and everything works together making remote access to the system possible. There are other features I find desirable or useful with these upscale inverter/chargers.

paulz
Member
# Posted: 15 Feb 2021 09:01
Reply 


OK got it. I have done basically this, albeit more crudely, using an automotive charger plugged into the battery bank while running a generator.

These units sound like they are best suited for installations using a generator on a regular basis. I don't fall into that category, at least not now. Not that I wouldn't turn one down, but they seem to add substantially to the price.

Thanks ICC.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 15 Feb 2021 09:28
Reply 


Inverter chargers do add a level of easy of use to a system. They can sence the battery voltage and when it's to low trigger a electric start generator to run. But they also have decently sized chargers too. Someone who has internet and security cameras running while not there, this could be real handily. Or any other load needed to run 24/7.

But yea the price of a similar inverter and separate charger are usualy less then both components bought separate.

paulz
Member
# Posted: 25 Feb 2021 09:53
Reply 


So now I'm considering a Xantrex 1800w pure sine, 24v. Wondering a couple things:

Do larger inverters take significantly more power to run, both in use and standby, than smaller units?

Is 1800w enough for cabin life? Obviously depends on what's running. Everything I have now is 12vdc. I popped the 10a fuse the other day with the fridge and lights on when the water pump turned on. I don't need AC, but would use a microwave oven.

Others have said they power their 12v items off their 24v systems with buck converters. How efficient is that?

I have 3 Valence 12v 140ah LFP batteries. At 24 volts I could only use 2, or buy another, right?

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 25 Feb 2021 10:11
Reply 


Xantrax should have a spec on stand by useage. There a prety high quality inverter so should be 89%+ efficient with prety low stand by. They also typically have a surge that's 2-3x what the running wattage is. I believe my xantrex freedom x1200 will surge for 20 seconds. All these specs are in the manual you can download though.

We run a mini fridge and 100ft of bistro lights and a undercounter light with out a flicker. I haven't run any big loads on it but we do plan on adding more lights and possibly running an AC off it this summer.

The plan with the AC is to run the AC off the inverter as the little 1kw generator I have cant start the AC. This is where the transfer switch in the inverter may come in handly.

paulz
Member
# Posted: 25 Feb 2021 15:10
Reply 


Found the specs, 90% efficient, <1.5w standby.

Boy Xantrex has a bunch of inverter models. The ones I'm looking at are Prosine, expensive. The Prowatt is much cheaper, don't know why. And the Freedom X with transfer switch..

ICC
Member
# Posted: 25 Feb 2021 18:38
Reply 


Quoting: paulz
The Prowatt is much cheaper,


Most PROwatt are modified sine wave; all PROsine are pure sine wave. Other differences too. If you search for it I believe Xantrex has a selector or comparison chart between all its products

paulz
Member
# Posted: 10 May 2021 16:59
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I'm considering a Xantrex Freedom HFS 2000 pure sine inverter charger. I see some of you are using the Freedom models. Amazon shows some less than stellar reviews..

Any good?
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Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 10 May 2021 17:13 - Edited by: Nobadays
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No experience with that inverter but a good brand I think. Giandel inverters have a good reputation... I have a 600w I've used for a couple of years. My only beef is it won't start my compressor or bench grinder, just too small.

HERE is 2200w

paulz
Member
# Posted: 10 May 2021 18:51 - Edited by: paulz
Reply 


Wow that's a good price, most of them in that price range are Egg Foo Young brand.

The Xantex I'm considering came out of an RV. They list for $6-800, I can get it for 3. Used electronics is a crap shoot. I've been mostly lucky, though haven't spend over $100 on any one thing. It has the same 2,000/4,000 rating but charges higher at 50a.

I've been using an inverter for a miter saw on my cabin trim. older, 600w MSW. A month ago I bought a 1,000w FSW Egg Foo, new. Tried it on the chop saw, cuts off the second I hit the trigger. Hoping it at least powers my new ceiling fan.

Thanks. Get the Tracker going?

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 10 May 2021 19:41
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Picking up the Tracker tomorrow. I had a bunch of stuff done, wasn't cheap but should be reliable now. Oh and a friend sent me a link to a 1990 Tracker for sale...l hemmed and hawed then showed it to my wife,... she said "go get it!" So now we have a 1990 automatic 4x4. Of course it needs a water pump which means a timing belt as well and exhaust from the flange back. Nim going to put a header on it to make it easier to get the exhaust system installed. Oh the interior is pretty rough, BUT only gave $1000 for it. Runs and drives good

paulz
Member
# Posted: 10 May 2021 22:49
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Quoting: ICC
IIRC, Midnite, Outback, and Victron are 5 year, Samlex 2 minimum depending on product line. I have one of their inverter/chargers in my RV and it had a 3 year warranty.



I was just reading the Xantrex warranty. It's a little like an insurance policy, lots of exclusions. Basically what it sounded like was "send it back, we'll take it apart and if we don't see anything we could have done wrong, you're out of luck". Hopefully they are a little softer than that.

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 11 May 2021 03:49
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Well paul, you should have considered a Samlex EVO Inverter/Charger. Here is an IRONY THOUGH, the MPP Solar & Growatt All in Ones, Inverter/Charger & Solar Controller cost about the same is JUST the Xantrek or Samlex Inverters.

As stated in another thread, ALL-In-Ones are internally modular and parts are easily exchangeable for repair if required. They are quite reliable and many companies are now using them or switching to this format due to simplicity, ease of management and controls.

MPP Solar: https://www.mppsolar.com/v3/product-overview/
Growatt (quality notch up): https://www.growatt-america.com/list-8.html

Victron and others are also out there.... MPP is considered a high end "Value" grade gear and Growatt is one notch up at Tier-2.

paulz
Member
# Posted: 11 May 2021 09:19 - Edited by: paulz
Reply 


Quoting: Steve_S
Well paul, you should have considered a Samlex EVO Inverter/Charger.


I haven't bought anything yet. Everything in my cabin is still DC, but I did just put up a 110ac ceiling fan I haven't hooked up yet.

Trying to plan ahead for more AC, we may move into this thing permanently. My system is still 12v because the water pump, wifi etc. are 12v. I have 400 ah of LFP and plenty of solar it seems so I could power some AC.

gcrank1 said 12v should be limited to 1000w inverter, though I see up to 5000w advertised. Maybe I have this wrong, but even a car battery can have 500+ cold cranking amps, 7000w, for a few seconds. I have big inverter cable, 2/0 awg.

They guy selling the Xantrex admitted they now sell the same unit for $200 less than he paid, feels inverter prices may follow the flat screen TV. Talk about an honest seller. I'd probably jump but is 2000w enough?

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 11 May 2021 10:03
Reply 


PAUSE !
Car Batteries != anything similar, forget all that nonsense. CCA is short burst power out.

12VDC can handle up to 2000W normal + surge (Hi Freq=2x, LowFreq=3X) handling. 2000W @ 12V = 166A on the DC Bus.

My 24V system is designed to support 300A constant draw but never get's there.
Coffee Maker uses 50A for 6 Minutes while brewing.
Nuke Panasonic 1200W Inverter Type draws 75A when at 1200W full.

400AH of LFP @ 12.6V (3.2V nominal per cell) = 5.04 kWh of energy stored. APPRECIATE that my original Lead Acid Bank of Rolls Surette S-550's only gave me GROSS 428AH or 214AH useable and when I bought that it cost me $3400 ! (more than what my 910AH LFP bank cost)

A Hard Truth.
Most companies shy away from the 12V stuff because of the limits and the costs. Most are starting with 24V and going up to 96VDC (tricky zone after 48V) The cost to produce 12V over 24V isn't worth it honestly. 12V is still supported due to Legacy Reasons.

24VDC systems CAN support up to 6000W Continuous or 250A draw. But now with stackable AIO's that can go even further. If considering Longevity & long term support I would NOT look at 12VDC based systems.

Any DECENT Conditioning converter can take the 30VDC and provide clean conditioned 12V to any 12V devices and they are not expensive. That is what most of us do now. Not those cheap $12 Buck converters though.

Just a reminder... I am 100% off grid in the north living with a 24VDC system which only outputs 120VAC. It runs my Grundfos SQ-5 Deep Well pump and everything else including my compressor (3HP) and even my MIG Welder without a blink. Although I run the beasts off the genset cause it needs the work.

paulz
Member
# Posted: 11 May 2021 10:38
Reply 


Glad you're feeling talkative Steve cause I'm soaking it up like a sponge.

I mentioned the car CCA to compare to the starting surge of AC things but I get the point. I have been known to crank a car over for quite awhile though..

I suppose, looking at the future, I ought to just get along with what I have now, since I'm in no rush, and consider a 24v all in one box. I'll have to buy another Valence battery, since I have only three now.

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 11 May 2021 11:04 - Edited by: Steve_S
Reply 


Well, I always tell folks to really take their time, think it out and to NEVER EVER Impulse buy a damn thing. There are no "Once in a Lifetime Deals" and when they popup they usually come with major Caveats.

IF I was building TODAY, I would use a Growatt System, 48VDC Based that can deliver 240VAC. While I do not need 240V at this time, it still provides the two 120V legs so nothing lost. The cost difference between 120V / 240V capable is minuscule. I would do this now because it would support an EV later.

In my "particular case" it is also a Reselling point. I will be dead in <3 years and Maggie will be selling this place to some lucky buyer. The Future of EV's is brightening daily while Gassers are gonna fade FAST. Many people often do not think of LATER when things change and property goes to Sale but it happens all the time. Too obvious maybe ? I dunno but something to ponder like any other addition to a home.

But because I am invested into my current gear, it will remain but with a few mods & updates and that's it. Everything is being very well documented and automated as well. Something else MANY PEOPLE FORGET and basically devalue the investment if the buyers have no way to operate or understand the equipment they are looking at.

PS: The above note, that is how a lot of folks get Really Cheap used Solar Gear. Coming off houses that had it without documents or instructions and people just yank it off to dump it or replace it with something they know about. I've seen 200W panels for $20 as take offs because the guy did not know how to use the system he got with the house. I just missed on on the Midnite Classic 200 for $150.

IF you wanna soak up more, come visit us at DIYSolarForum and toss your ideas out there and you'll get tons of info hurled back at ya. LOL...

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 11 May 2021 11:37 - Edited by: gcrank1
Reply 


I sure second the DIYSolarForum.com, pretty much like this site's 'culture'.
Paul, In my (hopefully cautious) mind going to, and over, 100a in fuse/breaker because it is needed to protect the wiring is too high for me to be comfortable with. Anyone else ever weld some wires together in a 12v vehicle? I dont run 1000w stuff off my system, that kind of load is for my little inv/gen. My big loads are only short term anyway.
Now if someone wants to run a 1000w, or larger, inverter to run a 300w load that is up to them, but imo it is way inefficient. Many RV folks (who are pretty much locked into having to run a 12v system) have their BIG inverter off (not just on standby hogging power) and only switch it on when needed and run a smaller inverter better suited to the load of what they are using at the time.
Steve's comments regarding documentation are well taken here! That was just my situation when the prev. owner suddenly died at 62 in mid-2019. His daughter, and executor, put the property, as was, up for sale that fall. Once we had an contractual accepted offer I had a short time before winter to figure out the system(s) and try to winterize/salvage what I could rather than own a bunch of junk come spring. Drove my wife crazy....
Now that I have a workable system I see that most of the functional documentation of what Ive done is here on this site in these threads!
And all my wife wants to do is flip a switch or two or warm some leftovers in the microwave.

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 11 May 2021 12:30
Reply 


Hahaha ... Agreed GCRank. But not just your Missus wants to only "flip a switch" 95% of people that is all they want and nothing more complex.

And you KNOW the pain of having to sort someone else's mess out. It is a Royal YOU KNOW WHAT to deal with. People use undocumented Solar Systems as point to knock the price DOWN ! when buying.

Point on Efficiencies. Tier-3 Value gear & Tier-2 gear is not above 88% efficiency. Some Tier-2 and almost ALL Tier-2 are above 92% efficient. Some even Higher. IE, My Samlex EVO Inverter/Charger is 94% and only uses 18W in Idle (non power save) or 8W with Powersave. As a 7/24 System, that's squat, not even a lightbulb really (LED at that).

All stuff to weigh when designing your system.
BTW, the All-In-Ones are usually more efficient than individual component based systems. Victron can get t 96% Efficient with some of their new gear. But that's serious $$$$.

paulz
Member
# Posted: 11 May 2021 17:55
Reply 


Geez Steve, sorry to hear about your impending demise.. You'll be missed around here..not much else to say.

Well today marks the first day running anything on AC in the cabin. I plugged my just installed ceiling fan into the $50 FSW inverter I got last month, fully expecting it to shut down. Surprisingly it did not, even runs the fan and lights together.

I have pretty much decided to get another Valence battery so I have 4 and get an all in one 24 or 48 volt. Just a question of when, no particular rush.

There is one caveat though, higher voltage means less MPPT right? At the moment it is mid day here, good as it gets, my Epever is showing 92 volts coming in.
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gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 11 May 2021 19:23
Reply 


That <3 years sounds mighty definitive, sorry to hear it! Your layman's explanations of so many things 'cabin-ish' are a breath of fresh air.
I dont know when I joined here, maybe about a year ago? But my estimates of time are wacky from this past Covid Year. Anyway, I had a very rudimentary solar understanding filled with far too many misconceptions. How Faarrr Ive come in this short amount of time and being able to play with variations on my 'inherited' system. Still far to go/learn but I can carry on a conversation, or take those around me deeper into it than they really want to hear about (lol). We are all either helpful or enablers, probably a bit of both.....
These new/gen technologies/products are outpacing me, along with outdistancing my fixed 'income'. Still kinda fun to mess about with and think on, maybe it all will help me stave off dementia

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 12 May 2021 04:03
Reply 


@Paulz and others. I was given 5-7 years in 2014, bought this property fall 2014 to build as my bucket list project. Maggie did not like my other idea and convinced me this is the right path as it was always something I wanted to do. Cleared the land, designed, drafted my plans and built the house. I'm more or less on BONUS Time and it most certainly won't be 3 more years. I'm good with it. I've mentioned this in my threads but not much.

One thing guys... They say wait till your 50 to get a Prostate PSA test. BULL HOOEY ! 40 years old would be better, I "might" have had a chance.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 12 May 2021 09:39
Reply 


What many people dont realize is
We All Are On Bonus Time
Making good use of it is the key, you have done Well!

Snowbound
Member
# Posted: 2 Jun 2021 14:14
Reply 


That's really tough Steve, I'm sorry to hear that. I agree on checking early, mine was found when I went for a checkup when I turned 50. The tumor was already quite large but fortunately still contained. Another year and it would likely have spread, I'm 11 years post surgery now.

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